Write to be read. What you need to know and do to turn every word you write into the word that gets results.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a writing machine. My first article was published when I was 5 years old, 59 years ago; I’ve been a writing machine ever since. I’ve made a fortune knowing how to manipulate the incredible English language.

Sadly, I am in the minority. Having taught writing courses at many institutions of higher learning, including Harvard, I long ago came to the conclusion that most people would rather get a root canal than struggle with the dicey business of writing so people will read, understand and respond to what they write. Needless to say this costs them big bucks, since if you cannot use your own language, the lingua franca of the world,as the essential tool it is for business and life success, you lose much of the value of that language. And that is a crying shame.

I want to help you out, and I’ve therefore created the list below of key points which when mastered dramatically improve the way you write and the results you get.

1) Just because you’re a native English speaker doesn’t know you know anything about writing our complicated, sophisticated, absolutely splendid language. Speaking and writing are two separate, though related, things, and must be seen as such.

Start from the proposition that you are, shall we say, “challenged” by writing in English. There are many reasons why this could occur: you weren’t properly taught. Although teachers unions may strongly disagree, the fact is most teachers are not trained to write words that get results. Thus, they are unable to teach their students, who thereby start off their life-long relationship with writing the right words on the wrong foot. What’s more, most never manage to overcome this poor start; instead of trying to overcome the problem, they find ways to minimize or even avoid writing altogether. That is surely what throwing the baby out with the bath water means.

2) Admit you have a problem that’s not going to get better on its own.

As a business writer for my entire (now long in the tooth) adult life, one of the saddest things I see is respected business leaders not only unable to write the Queen’s English proficiently but proud of themselves because they mangle it in both its spoken and written manifestations. Yes, proud of themselves… each embarrassing misusage and mistake proving their warped satisfaction that they are therefore “people of the people”, thereby immune from proper usage. Just to state this proposition is to prove what a zany idea that is… yet it is common.

3) Force yourself to write more and better.

Like so many things in life, the more you write, the better you’ll get. Most business people are poor writers because, being VIPs, they delegate such “minor” tasks to others. What seems at first glance to be something rational and efficient, upon second glance proves to be nothing more than a means to slough off something you strongly dislike. Now hear this: even if you are the Chief Poobah of the world, indeed because you are that self-same Poobah, you need the ability to write the right words to get the results you must have to expand your clientele and business altogether.

This means no longer delegating all writing projects which ordinarily accrue to people of your dignity and position, but accepting at least some of them, not least to give yourself necessary practice… with the clear understanding that practice does most assuredly make perfect.

4) Less is always more.

Brevity, it is said on the highest authority, is the soul of wit. It’s also the key to ensuring that what you write will be carefully read and easily understood.

Poor writers are prolix writers; they write too much, edit too little, and manage to kill any fruitful results that might come by burying the objective in verbosity thereby suffocating the writing and ensuring its failure.

When you sit down to write any document whatsoever, your objective, 100% of the time, is to

state what you aim to achieve

Then, succinctly, marshal your arguments, with the preeminent and clear focus on what the recipient gets from you by taking the promptest possible action.

This means that if you want results, your invariable focus must be on the “you” you are writing to; getting this person’s attention, interest, then action is what all good business writing is about… such writing may never win the Nobel Prize for Literature… but who cares? It can make you rich.

5) Use numbers to structure what you write.

Good writers, particularly good writers in a hurry (are there any others?) use numbers to ensure readership and clarity. Thus,

“I have three reasons for contacting you today….”

“There are 6 major reasons why you must respond today….”

“Here are the 5 reasons you’ll want to take advantage of this offer now….”

Get the picture? Numbering provides structure, and it makes both writing and reading of what you write easier. Remember, you do not need to win prizes for your prose; it need only be good enough to get the results you desire.

6) Always write for the “you” receiving your writing.

Good writers, and by that I mean fast, efficient, easy to read writers, know a secret which, until now, has been unknown by you: that English prose sings when you make it “you” centered, the you in question being the person you are addressing your words to.

All people are egotistically and I-centered. Don’t fight City Hall on this one; take advantage of this fact, to your substantial advantage. The words you write should always be about, for, directed at and done (whether explicitly or not) for “you”, the person you must never forget you are writing for.

7) Read your words aloud… and save your breath!

Want to know whether what you’ve written will achieve your purpose? Read it aloud to yourself. If you find yourself meandering through dense thickets of words and punishing verbosity, difficult “show off” words and elusive meaning and directions, you need re-write (as every Hollywood director knows).

Sentences should never be longer than you can comfortably read in a single breath, no fudging either.

Key points should be made, emphasized, stressed… but always in short sentences.

Your writing should have a cadence which reading aloud will demonstrate. The best writing is writing that moves you briskly through the subject at hand, without a single superfluous word.

Start today.

As you implement these steps and begin to see tangible results which will only improve, you will be glad, even blissful, that the bugaboo of being a poor writer is now gone… never to return.

What will fill its place is one result after another achieved by deft use of the written word you feared at the beginning of this article… and now rejoice as one of the absolutely essential tools for enhanced business success. And that’s a fact you can write home about!

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

Lizzie and Johnny Edwards were lovers. Swore to be true to each other, true as stars above….

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. To get you in the right mood for this honky-tonk tale of adolescent passion and its sordid conclusion, search for Elvis Presley’s version of “Frankie and Johnny, or You’ll Miss Me In the Days to Come.” Written by the Leighton Bros. and Ren Shields (1912); it was the title song in the 1966 film starring Elvis. It exactly conveys the right mood for this article.

Cute, cute, so temptingly, dangerously cute.

This is the story of a cute Southern boy named Johnny Reid Edwards to whom the gods gave everything… except the self-control he needed to keep all his treasures together. You find such boys everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. Dressed in polo shirts and shorts, they’re quick with a quip and that dazzling smile, the smile whose power they soon understand and use with devastating effect.That smile is the royal road to everything… including the women who love them, not wisely (as they all come to discover), but too well.

This is the story of one such boy, Johnny Reid Edwards, the boy with enough wattage in that smile to take him to the top. Or so he reckoned. For now he stands indicted. The man who might have had the White House… now faces the possibility of the Big House.

Born June 10, 1953 in Seneca, South Carolina, a good place to get out of.

Johnny Reid Edwards’ parents were Wallace Reid Edwards and Catharine Juanita “Bobbie” Edwards (nee Wade). The family moved frequently during Edwards’ childhood, eventually settling in Robbins, North Carolina. There his father worked as a textile mill floor worker, eventually promoted to supervisor; his mother had a roadside antique finishing business, featuring the kind of dusty bric-a-brac without value where a smart passerby hopes to make a discovery for “Antiques Roadshow”… but never does. She later became a postal letter carrier. It at least paid regular.

Johnny Reid Edwards, a boy who looked up.

Johnny Edwards was a high school football star. That, and always remember that mega- watt smile, gave him what he wanted… what he always wanted… attention. And lots of it, as any American knows who has ever watched (and envied) the staged swagger of these adolescent lords of the gridiron as they enter their kingdoms each day. He learned what he had to do to move out… and move up.

Edwards was the first person in his family to attend college. He attended Clemson University and transferred to North Carolina State University. Edwards graduated with high honors earning a degree in textile technology in 1974 and later earned his Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law (UNC) with honors.

The girl of his dreams?

A man has dreams of the person he wants to marry, but only he knows whether the girl he marries is that dream. Did he get what he wanted… or did he just settle for less? His wife assumes she is his beloved… only to discover, sooner or later, she was merely a facsimile, and therein are the seeds of dissension.

While at UNC met Elizabeth Anania. They married in 1977; they were both cute as bugs in a rug… but Edwards was clearly cuter, and of course he was always festooned with the mega-watt Southern boy smile that just wouldn’t quit.

The couple had 4 children (Wade in 1979, Cate in 1982, Emma Claire in 1998,and Jack in 2000.) Elizabeth matured into an ample matron during these years… John Edwards stayed as young and cute as ever, the very picture of Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1891) where the portrait ages, not the man. When a man comes to learn that he retains the secret of adolescence, of what mayhem and conquests may he not dream, and more than dream? For who would be sensible in the face of such a boon?

Malpractice millions.

After law school, Edwards clerked for a federal judge and in 1978 became an associate of the Nashville law firm of Dearborn & Ewing, doing primarily trial work, defending a Nashville bank and other corporate clients. The Edwards family returned to North Carolina in 1981, settling in the capital of Raleigh where he joined the firm of Tharrington, Smith & Hargrove.

He was about to break through to the big money, the really big money.

In 1984, Edwards was assigned to a medical malpractice lawsuit that had been perceived as unwinnable; the firm had only accepted it as a favor to an attorney and state senator who did not want to keep it. Nevertheless, Edwards, assisted by that all-powerful smile, won a $3.7 million verdict on behalf of his client, who had suffered permanent brain and nerve damage after a doctor prescribed an overdose of the anti- alcoholism drug Antabuse during alcohol aversion therapy. It was his first big victory… but only the first of huge, multi-million dollar victories and the huge sums he made. In due course, Edwards developed a winning formula that established him as the unstoppable rainmaker… the most important lawyer in any law firm, for they were the ones who had mastered the art of getting the serious money.

Edwards soon became a legend for this money. He had an eye for which cases would deliver the big bucks… and of course he knew, a combination of instinct and experience, how turn the woes of the little people into a cascade of cash, how to squeeze the big guys and rise high.

The tragedy of his life.

And so it might have gone, with the silver-tongued orator able to take the jury to just where he wanted them to go, showing them their power… and showing them how to wield it for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. But in 1996 his first-born child Wade was killed in a freak jeep accident. It was perhaps the only true tragedy of his life, for here the gods took what he so loved… and here, for once, words failed Edwards; the reality of too-soon death too real, too distressing.

A few weeks after Wade’s death, the words were his to command again. Edwards in his 90 minute closing to the jury referenced his great personal tragedy. Mark Dayton, editor of “North Carolina Lawyers Weekly,” called it the “most impressive legal performance I have ever seen.” The jury awarded the family $25 million, the largest personal injury award in North Carolina history… And so, with great irony, his son’s death helped Edwards rise high and higher still…. senator from North Carolina (1998); vice presidential nominee (2004) and, until his implosion in 2008, candidate for president.

Through it all, he still had that Southern boy cuteness; looking like the sunny side of 30 that he wasn’t. Acting like it, too. Which is how ex-senator John Edwards,husband, father, respected statesman, found himself, June 3, 2011, in a North Carolina court charged with violating federal campaign finance laws, using contributions from wealthy benefactors to conceal his mistress and their baby while he was running for president in 2008. That boyish demeanor, handsome face, lithe body, and that smile had at last gotten him into deep trouble.

Elizabeth Edwards, the loyal wife who shielded him, divorced him, then died (2011). American voters who had believed in him now reviled. The big money had stopped. Only one thing remained: he looked absolutely terrific when he walked into the courtroom, the result of forgetting something: Lizzie and Johnny Edwards were lovers. Swore to be true to each other, true as stars above…. he was her man, and he did her wrong.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is, where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

Listen my children and you shall hear of Sarah Palin’s version of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. So, who needs facts anyway?

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Sarah Palin came to Boston June 3, 2011 with her traveling circus of friends, children, grandchildren, and hangers on… On vacation, she wanted to show herself off to Boston while instructing her claque in the finer points of American revolution history, so much of which took place right here.

Frankly, we were glad to see her since our tourist business was hard hit by the recent recession and is only just recovering, glad that is…

… until she started lecturing us locals on what we know best: our own history, whose facts she so scrambled that she managed to turn Paul Revere from our celebrated hero into a stooge for the British, a spy treacherously working for the very people we were fighting against, our 18th century owners and oppressors.

Here’s what she said after a visit to Old North Church when she was asked about Paul Revere’s historic ride, April 18, 1775. With the ringing certitude she’s made all her own Professor Palin commenced her mangling. Revere, she said, “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms. By ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

Except for the part where Palin says Revere got on his horse and rode… Professor Palin is wrong on every single point.

Revere was not on a mission to warn the British. (Where does the lady get these ideas anyway?).

He rode to warn the colonists to get up and defend themselves for the “British were coming”, by sea.

He didn’t work alone but as part of a team of brave people who each, once briefed, had to get up and get out fast, to warn the colonists along their appointed route so that they could defend themselves and the arms they had dangerously, laboriously assembled.

If Paul Revere had done what Palin said he did (“warn the British”) he would have been snuffed out by the locals as a dangerous snitch, a traitor, not raised to the pinnacle of national respect and admiration.

This entire imbroglio, this tempest in a tea cup, should never had taken place. Palin could have chosen to do what I did when I took my nephew Kyle out to the same historic sites.

First, get a guidebook and read it.

Second, visit the superb visitor centers along the way. They are packed with pertinent detail and good (air-conditioned) films, a real pleasure to see and get out of the humidity, too.

Three, pepper the well prepared park service employees and local volunteers in period costumes with all your questions. They’ve heard it all and, in my experience (for I’ve taken friends and family members thither many times) are well qualified, well versed, and always warm and welcoming in the New England fashion.

Sarah, of course, chose none of these sensible alternatives.

Sarah likes “going rogue” about this, as everything else. It means she does things, everything, her own way… and those who don’t like it can lump it. She so liked the idea and the phrase that she titled her autobiography “Going Rogue: An American Life”. (Simon and Schuster 2009). In Palin’s “Alice in Wonderland” world whatever she says, no matter how wrong, is right and anyone criticizing her, however right, is always wrong.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, her Fox colleague, was the latest victim of Palin-think. Sunday June 5, he discovered why even suggesting that Palin could be mistaken ever about anything is like fighting with a skunk. And we all know what that means…

The daring but hapless Wallace suggested that Palin had erred in her Boston lecture on Revere. But Palin wasn’t about to suffer that. What? Sarah! Make! A! Mistake! Not just impossible… but inconceivable. And what’s more, that was just another instance of “gotcha” journalism, bad people out to get her. (In Sarah’s conspiratorial world there are always such evildoers at hand for Sarah’s world is lined with paranoia.)

“You know what?” Palin spat at Wallace, “I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere. Part of his ride was to warn the British that we’re already there. That, hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.”

There was more, lots more, delivered with the usual ingredients of her verbal Molotov cocktails… surety, disdain, condescension and her usual “Look brother,don’t tread on me. Get off my back” nastiness, which can in an instant turn her smile into a sneer. Make no mistake about it, Sarah’s a tough customer and any suggestion that she’s not as good as the Virgin Mary directs her firepower at you, while her stiletto comes down hard on your foot, the better to make her point — maggot, don’t mess with me.

And this to Chris Wallace, a professional colleague at the Fox Network!

She went on, fire and brimstone at the ready, for Palin always comes armed with the arsenal of the street fighter:

“Here is what Paul Revere did. He warned the Americans that the British were coming.., and they were going to try take our arms and we got to make sure that we were protecting ourselves and shoring up all of ammunitions and our firearms so that they couldn’t take it,” Palin said June 5.

“But remember that the British had already been there, many soldiers for seven years in the area. And part of Paul Revere’s ride –and it wasn’t just one ride — he was a courier, he was a messenger. Part of his ride was to warn the British that we’re already there…. You are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual, private militia that we have. He did warn the British.”

And that, she suggests, is that. But, most assuredly, that is not that… and not just because she misstated a few facts which are all easily available in libraries and online. Even Boston’s own Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his famous poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” (published 1863) erred in focusing solely on what Revere did, to the detriment of his many other colleagues who also rode hard for freedom that April evening.

No, Palin’s fault is the assumption of infallibility with which she now approaches everything, great and small. That every word she mispronounces is faultless; every sentence she twists and destroys is perfect…. and every fact she gets wrong was in fact just previously misunderstood and is now clarified by her. This is not an American citizen and possible presidential candidate. This is the first, infallible American pope… and a woman too. And if you purists in the Vatican suggest that a non-Catholic and a woman will never be pope, Sarah will tell you different, thundering with words like schism and anti-pope at the ready.

For you see, Sarah aims for bigger fish than the White House with its tiresome term limits and insistent people always to propitiate. Sarah aims for the very seat of St. Peter and a lifetime audience commanded to listen and obey…

“A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo for evermore…”

The word of our Sarah urbi et orbi “In the hour of darkness and peril and need”… Amen! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a historian, syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding

It’s all Greek to David Norris as this once shoo-in to be president of Ireland fights for his political life.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

By any standard David Norris is an unusual man. For openers, consider this….

He is an Anglican in a country overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

He was born in the Belgian Congo.

His mother was Irish, but his father was not only English, but in the British Army.

And he is openly gay, something which can still cause a frisson even amongst the most sophisticated of Dubliners.

Norris, in his own personal history and biography, is a symbol of how far Ireland has come from the bleak and bigoted land of recent history.

Indeed, just a few weeks ago this man of determination, grit and grace, gifted with a smile that suggests everything is possible, was riding high in his quest to become the first openly gay Irish president.

Then some sexual habits of the ancient Greeks — and Norris’ opinion about them — surfaced, to create a maelstrom which has laid the man low.

Here are the facts.

In January 2002, Norris gave an interview to the politics/current affairs magazine “Magill”. In this article he questioned the age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual intercourse and reflected on social attitudes towards incest. At the time, this little read article in less read “Magill” had no influence whatsoever, seemingly sunk without a trace… until it looked like liberal Independent Senator Norris might become President Norris.

Enter the conscience of Helen Lucy Burke.

Burke was a restaurant critic, more at home with souffles and novelle cuisine than Irish politics and statecraft. However she was assigned to do the “Magill” article, perhaps hoping to get Norris, whose girth and enbonpoint showed a gourmand’s disposition, to make some witty culinary remarks. In any event, when the Senator focused on sex rather than truffles, Ms. Burke found the subject distasteful, disgusting, disgraceful.

As the likelihood of Norris becoming president surged along with his poll numbers, Burke found herself on the horns of a dilemma. She knew where duty (and lots of great publicity) lay… and so she took her disgust and outraged conscience to national broadcaster RTE.

Burke titillated the nation with her rendition of what Senator Norris had said in that soon-to-be-infamous “Magill” interview. Words like “incest” and “pedophilia” were on every Irish lip… and every time they were uttered there was another puncture in Norris’ candidacy.

For Norris the timing of Burke’s remarks could not have been worse. After all, the nation stood abashed at the extent of the pedophile priest scandal and how the Church had (mis)handled it. The distinction that Norris wanted to make, and kept reiterating about the difference between the sanctioned man-boy love of the ancient Greeks and the coercive sex forced by priests on innocent boys was lost on the nation. Ireland’s moral conscience, always ready for arousal, drew an adamant line at men and their boys, totally, completely, resoundingly, absolutely.

A sumptuous dinner party chez Agathon.

The source of all this outrage and anger was a fictional dinner party described by the celebrated Greek philosopher Plato c. 385-380 BCE. In this important document 7 well-heeled Athenians come together in what was termed a symposium for superior cuisine and even more superior, entirely candid conversation between men of education, wit and culture.

The subject of this night’s conversation was the genesis, purpose and nature of love… a topic on which every guest could, and did, wax bold, provocative, amusing, even lyrical. It was just the kind of event that the well-educated and clever Norris would have been delighted to attend (and to which he would surely have been invited). Helen Lucy Burke would have wanted to go, too, if only to review the menu, but that was unthinkable! Really, what an outrage against tradition and the proprieties that would be!

Plato placed this dinner party in the house of the tragedian Agathon in Athens, the cultural capital of the world. Each man was to deliver an encomium, a speech in favor of erotic love. The dishes (the squid perhaps a tad overcooked) removed, the wine flowing liberally, these high-placed Attic gentlemen (who had each secretly practiced for their moment) got up on legs less steady as the evening progressed to say his piece… for his friends and, as it turned out, for all of human history.

Socrates, always tendencious, preachy, overbearing, went first, the better to get over his predictable remarks that the highest love was to become a philosopher, a lover of wisdom. Younger wits reckoned he would say that, being he was a philosopher, the most important philosopher. Still, poor old Soc, what a bore.

The encomium of the legal expert Pausanias ranged far and wide; perhaps lawyer Pausanias had drunk too deep of Agathon’s fine wines, for some words were muddled indeed. Still this man of the law knew how to please an audience as he discusses the superior wisdom, beauty and intelligence of men… and their undoubted fitness to be the teachers, the friends and counselors… and the lovers of young boys and adolescents. As Pausanias warmed to his subject, his auditors (seduced by the orator’s compliments and graceful asides) would have given their full concurrence.

Over 2000 years later, David Norris,would have given it, too. And he did understandably but not wisely in his “Magill” interview and other, later comments. For Norris the lure of ancient Greece, when men of his inclinations had every freedom, was palpable. But for Helen Lucy Burke, who did not understand, who was perhaps entirely incapable of understanding, it was all sin, abomination, writhing bodies, lost souls…

… and so this mere restaurant critic of painfully few readers took it upon herself to end the political career of the one man best capable of taking their nation to another level of tolerance, acceptance, and comity.

This is why today (June 10, 2011) you’ll find David Norris, whose poll numbers have now crashed, trying to resurrect his once-certain candidacy. To do so he must persuade local councillors that he would be the best president of Ireland, that his remarks have been misunderstood, and that he understands and appreciates the national outrage about his advanced, unwisely stated views.

In other words, this great gourmet must first eat a liberal portion of crow… and even that too little to achieve his goal.

Ireland, of course, will be the poorer without a President Norris, but even in his likely defeat Norris will do what he has done so often: advance the cause of human (and particularly) sexual rights. It is not what he wanted and thought he would get, but human society moves slowly… and, as we all know, painfully slowly in Ireland.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://videopal.me/page/yJvJCzjKkfyM

‘Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s….’ words Goshen College needs to remember as it bans ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. To get the most from this article and set just the right mood, go to any search engine and find a copy of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” for the words to this, America’s National Anthem, are at the heart of what tiny Goshen College is doing… prohibiting this stirring song from being played because of what college officials call its martial message.

Goshen, Indiana looks, at first glance, to be a typical Midwestern college town. 116 miles from the breakneck pace of the Windy City and all its distractions. Goshen is, particularly in summer, a sleepy place, a place where the pace ambles, and you can still find students sitting comfortably under a tree engrossed in a book.

But first impressions can be wrong… and if you saw Goshen as somnifacient you’d be wrong… for Goshen is more, far more than what you see. It is a land where the Word of God is vital! Living! Omnipresent and Real!

God is not abstract and distant from the collegiate community at Goshen. He is a kind and gentle God, as close as your beating heart. You do not merely think He cares for you… you know it! You see it! It is present reality.

In Goshen, Indiana as in its Biblical predecessor, no armies or any of the paraphernalia of war are allowed to enter… for this is land blessed by God… a land protected by God… a land apart. Glory Hallelujah for ever and ever.

The troubled spirits at Goshen.

For years now, officials at Goshen College have wrestled with something that profoundly bothered them… how could they, in good conscience, play “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting and other events when it celebrates everything they abhor and abominate, the chaos, mayhem and destruction of the “rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air”?

One bright idea after another was tried, to serve God as they were sure He wanted…. while not outraging the profound patriotism not merely of their Indiana neighbors but which they themselves deeply felt.

Some suggested playing a tune like “America the Beautiful” (which many of their fellow countrymen in any case prefer) or “This Land is Our Land.” Others recommended playing the National Anthem along with the anthem of another country, perhaps of an international student.

The discussions were long, learned, abstruse, unsatisfactory. There was no idea, no policy that satisfied all and kept Goshen true to its principles. Because a few could not solve the conundrum, Goshen resolved to consult the many. A survey was sent to 4,000 alumni, faculty, and students… A year was dedicated to finding a solution to a problem that seemed insoluble, how to serve their God and their country, too.

In due course, college officials released their findings… and in minutes the peace of Goshen College and its idyllic community was sundered; officials had decided to ban the National Anthem altogether, thereby returning the college to its strict previous policy…. Obeying God, so they reckoned, was more important than America. It was a decision nicely calculated to produce maximum criticism, outrage, and anger. Peaceful Goshen, where God’s peace abideth, was not peaceful anymore.

Their decision subjected an unhappy Goshen to the scrutiny of America. Officials who saw themselves as stewards of God…. were now pilloried as insular, bigoted, selfish people willing to take the benefits of the Great Republic while insulting the profound symbol of that Republic.

Goshen College, only days before unknown and unacknowledged, was now pummeled and ridiculed, assaulted and demeaned by local townspeople and by the nation. News media helped fan the flames by framing the matter as a debate between those who love country, who honor the military and its sacrifices, and despicable religious zealots and America detractors.

For Goshen these days of June, 2011 were the unhappiest of days. There was no peace in the land where in happier days God Himself found peace.

Waffled.

All of Goshen was on alert now, waiting for the further attacks they knew would come, and bitter, too. And as the attacks mounted the college officials resolved to do what members of the Academy so often do: abjure inconvenient principle, find a comfortable modus vivendi. In short, they waffled.

It was painful watching these officials, all targets now, twisting in the wind. They wanted the ban to continue; they wanted the attacks to stop. They wanted to have their cake and eat it, too. They wanted the impossible…

But in God, all things are possible.

“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” (Mark 12:17)

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus was constantly questioned by those seeking to discredit him. The occasion on which he uttered the words above were one of the most important. Here some of his many detractors sought to trip him up by asking a vital question about taxes, specifically should they be paid at all. His questioners hoped Jesus would give a simple “yes” or “no” response. Answering “yes” would have left him open to the accusation that he was in opposition to the Jewish resistance to the Roman occupation and therefore against God, too.

Answering “no” would have given those present an opportunity to report him to the Roman authorities as someone who was trying to incite a revolt. Either way, the questioners supposed, Jesus was trapped.

But he wasn’t.

And neither are the people of Goshen College, for Jesus has solved for them, the problem he solved for the Jews the day they asked the question they were sure would trick him, ending his bothersome ministry.

The flag of the United States and its magnificent anthem are of Caesar. Use them, honor them accordingly, for you have the highest authority for doing so and no cause for dismay and confusion. Confounded you may have been… but can be so no longer.

And so America asks you, Goshen,

“O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Let the flag fly… the great anthem soar… not divisive but uniting and all under God… for in these ways the people see how God loves us and with what munificence He has shed His grace on us all.

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://videopal.me/page/yJvJCzjKkfyM

* * * * *

The Good Humor Man, a tale of hot summers long ago.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. To get into the mood of this article, I recommend searching any search engine to find one old summer song that retains its toe-tapping zest. It’s Mungo Jerry’s 1970 hit “In The Summertime.” So timeless is this infectious little number that Hershey’s, the chocolatiers, is using it in a current (June, 2011) ad campaign. As Mungo says in the song, “Sing along with us.” My prediction is that you won’t be able to help yourself… it’s ok, when summer comes we’re all young again… and just plain happy to be alive.

Two things that could not be denied inspired this article… first the oppressive record-setting heat wave here in New England, a phenomenon which turned all of us in the city from folks assiduously avoiding each other into sweltering fellow travelers, anxious to hear the latest news about possible relief… and having no hesitation or shyness about reaching out for news and the agreeable opportunity to be resoundingly banal, “Hot enough for you?”

The second thing that caught my attention was the trill of bells which sounded at first hearing just the way the bells sounded from the Good Humor truck as it traversed the neighborhood, proving beyond a doubt that all us Illinois kids had absolutely no hearing problems; we could hear those bells across Guinness-Book-Of-Records distances… and nothing, but nothing, was going to get in the way of that truck and all of us making an absolutely certain rendezvous. It was clearly written in the Book of Kid Rights and Privileges, that it was our irrevocable and bounden duty to hear its bells, stop the wagon, and look long and hard for what a dime could get you. Personally, I was always seduced by the orange creamsicles. I haven’t seen, much less enjoyed one for decades… but as I write, I am falling helplessly into the insistent consumer mode which marked all my encounters with the mobile ice-cream emporium. The truck arrived; my money departed.

You need to be very clear about our relationship to Good Humor and its cascade of ice-cream novelties. Kids we ceased to be when we saw the truck and reviewed our resources. We were practised buyers, omniscient as to what was on that truck and what we fancied and would have, negotiators with proven skills, discerning, our “due diligence” certain, exhaustive, no doubt frustrating to the college kid home for the summer who wore the company’s uniform and drove the company’s vehicle… Long-suffering, so young himself and barely out of the juvenile consumer throng before him, he saw his profits melting as his pint-sized customers looked, looked again, made a decision, changed their mind, then looked some more…

It was a ritual, and no matter how many times you stopped the wagon, you performed it, loyally and with care. It was, after all, part of the experience… and, besides, you knew, none better, that the customer (even the most dilatory) was always right. It was something your father told you that you never forgot.

Some facts about Good Humor.

As a card-carrying kid and loyal Good Humor customer I knew absolutely nothing about the company whose success hinged on the wishes and buying power of kids like me. The only thing I cared about was whether they had orange creamsicles (they always did)… and what new novelties they had, putting them prominently at the front, the better to seduce me from my unending favorite; I have to admit I was always willing to try the new offerings, particularly if they came with the lure of that magic word: “deal” and a handful of discount coupons, which soon expired but could be seen months later under refrigerator magnets.

So ignorant then about my favorite company, I felt obliged for this article to rectify the matter… and so I have. Originally, Good Humors were a product, chocolate coated ice cream bars on a stick; I loved these too and regarded it as my particular job to ensure Grammie always had a good supply; since she loved them, too, my job was never onerous. Grammie and Grampa had great power and influence on Good Humor drivers. One never-to-be-forgotten day, Grampa who (I now know) had a talent for the right gesture at the right time, peremptorily stopped the wagon when the supply of ice-cream had run low at a birthday party Grammie was hosting for one of my young cousins. With a practised gesture I can see to this day, he ordered the wagon to stop… and invited all the guests young and old to take their pick of the inventory. When the impressed and jubilant driver had done his work, Grampa tipped him liberally, it may even have been $20, a fortune. Grampa was a dark horse in such gestures; he didn’t make them often (for he was a good penny-pinching, investing Hanoverian) but when he did… people noticed, winked, and said “Good Old Walt,” with just the right amount of admiration. They knew, and in due course all the grandchildren knew, that under his gruffness, an art form, there was a man who knew just when to be lavish with ice-cream… or whatever was called for.

Good Humor, having found success with Good Humor bars, did what all successful businesses do: it added new products, always using America’s kiddoes as ground zero for testing and launching new products. Good Humor started in Youngstown, Ohio in the ‘twenties; by the mid-‘thirties it covered most of the nation. Catering to the national sweet tooth and a love-affair with ice-cream that still seems inexhaustible, Good Humor flourished, until at its peak in the 1950s, the company operated 2,000 “sales cars”.

But the tribal ways of Good Humor, which I knew to my fingertips, were under threat; baby boomers like me grew up and put aside Good Humor along with the baseball glove and “Mad” magazine.. There were labor issues, costs increased, gasoline and insurance soared. And profits declined.

In 1961, Good Humor was acquired by Thomas J. Lipton, the US subsidiary of the international Unilever conglomerate. Sad but true, in 1978 the company sold its fleet, and an era truly came to an end. Distribution was then handled by grocery stores and independent street vendors. By 1984, Good Humor was profitable again… and (from 1989) growing. Gold Bond Ice Cream, that included the Popsicle brand, was acquired… and in due course Isaly Klondike and the Brewers Ice Cream Company. Nine plants nationwide work hard keeping up with the demand. (I confess I love Brewers chocolate ice-cream whose taste rivals more expensive brands.) I am glad that they prosper, for having lost creamsicles, I can ill afford to lose any more flavors… or a single memory.

Having completed this article, I shall allow myself the luxury (though it is very early on a Sunday) to reward myself with an ice-cream flavor I did not previously know, peach cobbler. It’s by Ben & Jerry,whose flavors I cherish, though their politics are intrusive and unappealing.

I am glad the store is handy… I am glad I won’t have to wait for the ice-cream truck to come, always late, increasing my impatience.

And I am glad I have shared this story with you. For while there have been many vicissitudes at Good Humor… the only thing that really matters, the ice-cream itself, abides, perfect for a hot summer’s day like the one just dawning. And that is good to know and to share with a friend.

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is, where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding

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Quirk. n. A personal peculiarity. We’ve all got ’em.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

It is now mid-June, 2011 here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Harvard
students have left town, some for good having just graduated; others making
the trek to where all true Harvard students go in summer, to Washington, D.C. —
and Power.

The town is now filling up with summer school students who want to buff up
their resumes by studying at Hahvud. Of course, bona fide Harvard grads
always know the difference… and make you feel your presumption.

… but I’m not here to write about these folks, though they no doubt bring
plenty of tales. I am here to comment on all the June weddings taking place
in the many churches clustered around the Cambridge Common.
The Puritans who created the Commonwealth designated Cambridge as
the theological center of their new land. And while they wanted conformity,
they reluctantly accepted multiplicity… so on any given Sunday there is a plethora of
ideological choices.

But doctrine isn’t my story. My story today concerns, as stated, the many weddings
taking place just now… and just what bride and groom, bride and bride and
groom and groom (for Cambridge celebrates its progressive attitude so)
really know about each other…

…. their quirks.

Quirks are the peculiarities each of us has collected over the years.
Passion may quell. Desire wane. Love transmute. But quirks are forever.
And ever… and ever. Which, so often, drive your Significant Other to
estrangement and Judge Judy.

Be honest with your mate… they’re going to find out anyway.

Along with blood tests and other marriage pre-requisites there should be a
full disclosure of one’s quirks… and a frank, honest discussion about whether
you can stand the quirks you are about to live with. In the interest of fair
play and total truth, I shall write here, right now, a few of my own personal
quirks.

Item: I have been known to take 3 showers or more in a day, day after day. If
cleanliness is next to godliness, I am sitting in His lap.

Item: I detest face cloths and regard their very presence as provocative, as
likely repositories of germs and bad smells.

Item: If I use a spoon when eating my breakfast, I will use it with only one
thing, and must then get another. It means more spoon washing but the clear
separation of food tastes and textures is worth it.

Getting the picture?

Since I am in the vanguard of quirk acknowledgement and disclosure, I want to push
the envelope further, aiming to make the subject a must ingredient in the selection
of mates.

As we all know, 50% of marriages, all of which commence in bliss and fairy
tales, end in divorce. I feel sure that open acknowledgement and acceptance
of partner quirks would cause these lamentable numbers to fall, even plummet.

Let me show you how that could be done.

Each partner is required to submit to the marrying authority, justice of the peace or
archbishop, a list of ten of their quirks.

Note: we know that at first go both partners, enraptured by love remember, will not be
as thorough and honest as required. So, regard this first list as practice; the fullest
disclosure yet to come.

You suggest a quirk: “I run my fingers through my hair dozens of times a day and never have
a comb handy”.

Your partner must then rate the quirk: on a scale of 1-10, (1 meaning “no problem”;
10 meaning “absolute deal breaker. Get out”.

Once each of you has run through your first list, it’s time to get serious. Each of
you must list 10 quirks of your beloved… and, the key, rate them on that 1-10 scale.

Geronimo!

GIs jumpiing out of airplanes in WWII used to shout the name of the great Apache
chief as they leapt out. It signified one wild ride was about to begin. Seems appropriate
to say it here, too…

Okay, let’s get started.

Partner 1: “When you eat M&Ms (which is every friggin’ day),you count them to make
sure you only eat an even number. What’s that all about anyway?”

Now tell your partner (scale of 1-10) just how you feel about that quirk? The lower the
score, the less noxious; the higher, the more.

This is a game sure to while away an otherwise unexceptional evening.

Share and share alike.

Remember, good manners and good cheer help this exercise move along.
Take turns identifying and rating quirks.

Remember, honesty is everything.

If the fact that your darlin’ has to count the M&Ms (and line up all the colors, too)
really bugs you, say so. And if your partner says, “so what, that’s just the way I
am”, that’s good, too. ALL perfect relationships are founded on perfect, total
disclosure. What could be better?

Now switch. Identify a particularly aggravating partner quirk?

“You hum ‘Rule Britannia’ in your sleep and have a tendency to kick me when
you reach “Britons never, never will be slaves.”

This being a nocturnal habit, partner may not even know. That’s why it’s so
helpful to talk these matters out and why Full Quirk Disclosure is sure to catch on.

Nothing but benefits.

By now I feel sure the benefits of ‘fessing up on quirks holds nothing but benefits
for all. That’s why this beneficial exercise must be expanded to parents and
children; grandparents and grand children; members of Congress and all presidential
candidates. You get the idea.

Start now. And never stint in your remarks. After all, love means never having
to say you’re sorry.

* * * * *
About The Author


Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding

‘Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. I’ve just flunked history — again.’ Abraham Lincoln, who dat?

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

America’s fourth and eighth graders took home their test results… and delivered the unquestionable fact that the history of this great nation is the subject in which they are least proficient.

Just one finding epitomizes the whole: the overwhelming majority of these future citizens does not know who Abraham Lincoln is… and cannot name a single one of his accomplishments.

But this is not an article just about today’s students and their egregious limitations and unfathomed ignorance. It is a story about us, all of us…

parents grandparents neighbors community leaders and politicians generally.

What we have done collectively is to strip history of its profound significance… so that its position at the very bottom of school subjects can hardly be wondered at.

Here are the facts.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, an arm of the federal Department of Education, released its 2010 “report card” on history June 14, 2011. This report is a stink bomb, a mine field of horror stories, conclusively demonstrating that how we teach history just isn’t working, for all the money we spend.

Item: Almost no high school seniors were able to identify China as the North Korean ally that fought U.S. troops in the Korean War or when and why that war took place.

Item: Only 20 percent of fourth-graders, 17 percent of eighth-graders, and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated “proficiency”.

Item: Fewer than one-third of eighth-graders was able to answer a “seemingly easy” question asking them to identify an important advantage that the American forces had over the British during the Revolutionary War.

The bad news, the horrifying news just keeps on coming.

Item: Just 2 percent of twelfth-graders correctly answered a question concerning Brown v. Board of Education, arguably one of the half dozen most important cases determined by the U.S. Supreme Court in the last 70 years.

Students were given an excerpt from the Court’s decision which included this passage:

“We conclude that in the field of public education, separate but equal has no place, separate educational facilities are inherently unequal”. Students were then asked — but were overwhelmingly unable to answer — what social problem the 1954 ruling was supposed to correct. The irony, of course, is that a large number of these students owe their very places in the schools they attend to this nation-changing ruling.

About the tests.

The test were given in the spring of 2010 to a representative sample of 7,000 fourth- graders, 11,800 eighth-graders and 12,400 12th-graders nationwide. History is one of eight subjects — along with math, reading, science, writing, civics, geography, and economics — covered by the assessment which is also called the Nation’s Report Card.

The program defines three achievement levels for each test: “basic” denotes partial mastery of a subject; “proficient” represents solid academic performance and a demonstration of competency over challenging subject matter; and “advanced” means superior performance.

The students did best in economics: 42 percent of high school seniors were deemed “proficient” in the 2006 economics test, a larger proportion than in any other single subject over the past decade. But let’s not kid ourselves before we uncork the champagne; in their very best subject, 58 percent rated below proficient. Sadly, this is the best, the very best these future citizens of the Republic can deliver. Pathetic.

Grab the good news where we can find it.

The nation’s educational experts point out, rightly, that all the news isn’t bad… there are some bright spots, though only a few. Fourth- and eighth-graders know more history than in years past. Proficiency rose among fourth-graders to 20 percent from 18 percent in 2006 and held steady at 17 percent among eighth-graders. No doubt true… but set against the immensity of their ignorance of history by high school seniors, we have absolutely nothing to cheer about. The minimal “goods” are as nothing against the fact that high schools seniors, many of whom are eligible to vote, are just plain incompetent. Such are the “white hope” of the democracy….

Racial differences, some progress here.

Educational experts, taking the good news wherever they can find it, point to improvements by different racial groups:

On average, white eighth-grade students scored 274 on the latest test, 21 points higher than Hispanic students and 23 points above black students. In 2006, white students outperformed Hispanic students by 23 points and black students by 29 points. From such shards we must take what comfort we can.

Clio laments and muses at such terrible results.

The ancient Greeks, smarter than we are, assigned a daughter of Zeus himself to guard the craft of history. Her name was Clio, and such was her importance that all her amours were kings. In short, she was a person of consequence, honored. She is depicted as holding a parchment role or set of tablets, from which she made her important declarations; so came to be known as the Proclaimer, a determined woman who could confer the gift of undying fame, something ardently desired by every true Greek with any claim to the regard of posterity. Such fame is the gift of history… and is the essence of what history is all about; the story of our species and the significant goods and evils we have committed and which we expect our progeny to acknowledge, know and to either laud and extol or condemn and denounce…. but always to mine for its manifold messages and significance.

History demoted.

History-education advocates contend that these poor showings in the tests underline neglect shown the subject by policy makers ,especially after the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act began requiring schools to raise scores in math and reading but in no other subject. This was like the federal government handing local school districts a mallet with which to demolish Clio and all her works. Scores slumped as a result.

But there is more here than just bureaucrats robbing Peter to advance Paul. We have an educational system that too often disdains history as insignificant, even irrelevant. History instruction is denigrated as nothing more than memorizing dates. But this reduces the riveting tale of our species on this planet to an absurdity.

History is a compendium of our stories, great and small. First, what have we done; not just when did we do it.

Teachers cannot teach history properly because their history studies dealt too often with the most insignificant aspects of Clio’s curriculum. They cannot teach history… because they never learned and never understood history. And so one generation bequeaths to the next generation its boredom and disdain for the most important subject of all: the story of mankind here on this third rock from the sun. Our students fail accordingly and we arrive at a place where even the titans of our race, like Abraham Lincoln, are unknown… with all that that means to our collective future.

Until we have root and branch reform about what we want our historical record to keep as significant… and how we want our teachers to know and our beleaguered students to master ,there will be no progress, only trivial advances amidst a backdrop of gloom. And this we will reckon is the best we can do…. which is the most alarming deduction of all and the most pernicious.

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding

* * * * *

‘… Well, now that we have seen each other,’ said the Unicorn, ‘If you believe in me, I’ll believe in you.’

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. In 1967 the Irish Rovers, a Canadian group audaciously featuring good natured boys from both the Orange and the Green, had a huge international hit. It was called “The Unicorn”, and it caught just the right whimsical note for its subject… and for this article. Go to any search engine and find it now. Then allow the music to do its insidious task… and in a minute, no matter how onerous your cares today, you’ll be smiling. What’s more that smile will grow to a grin when you learn that the unicorn lives…

The Arabian oryx.

Every fable, every legend, every great enduring story, no matter how fabulous or unlikely, has its roots in something real, tangible, actual. And the story of the unicorn, one of the longest running fables on this planet, is no exception. Once upon a time someone, though we shall probably never know exactly who, saw a thing… and imagined more; the tale growing in the telling, embroidered by all, a pleasure to hear, its enhancements eagerly awaited.

In this case, the thing seen was called the Arabian oryx, whose distinctive horns are widely believed to have given rise to the unicorn legend. I have good news about these benign creatures, so much a part of our imagination: they are now classified as “vulnerable”, not “extinct”. Accordingly we should give a cheer, for these days, as one species after another faces oblivion, we must take our good news where we can find it. And this is good news, indeed… for it means the oryx has been given the gift of time…

Extinct in the wild in the 1970s.

The last oryx in the wild was shot to death in the early 1970s… and that, it was thought, was that. But humans, the main predator of the oryx (wolves being a distant second) having wiped out the breed…. then, paradoxically, started strenuous efforts to revive the breed, using stock from zoos, animal parks and private collections. Its enduring legend as the unicorn made these people anxious to help. The objective was to breed enough so they could be successfully reintroduced to their habitat on the Arabian peninsula.

The oryx, glad for the help, responded as hoped to this special effort…and in due course began to return to its harsh wild conditions. It returned to Oman first, later to the deserts of Saudi Arabia.. . Israel, the United Arab Emirates… then, most recently, Jordan. About 1000 of these creatures now exist… and are doing what they need to do to survive…. and thrive, living in reality, not just in stories, no matter how enthralling.

But the stories of the oryx ARE enthralling… because people have an enduring need for the wonder of fables. And if you squint your eyes just so… you will not see a beast, no matter how attractive… you will see a fabulous one-horned creature with the power to engage our mind and lighten our load.

Al Maha

The Arabian oryx (also called the white oryx) is known locally as Al Maha and features widely in Arabic poetry and painting. It can smell water from miles away, has wide hooves that let it easily navigate shifting sand, and lives in small herds of eight to 10 animals.

Have you ever been in a desert at midday, where the heat shimmers and the mind plays tricks? In such a place, at such a time, it is easy to see what you have never known before. No mirage… but an actuality that belongs to you alone. In such a moment the fabulous unicorn presents itself for your inspection, bows its head the better to show its horn… then recedes into the shimmer… going, going, gone… now your quest for life. So the unicorn enchants and makes believers of us all… The legend begins.

Perhaps the earliest mention of the unicorn is by the famed Greek historian Herodotus in the third century BC. He called it a “horned ass”. A century later, spurred by the travels into Persia of the Greek historian and physician Ctesias, tales of the unicorn were widespread, losing nothing in the telling.

Ctesias, who admits he never saw one, quizzed local merchants and other travelers for whatever information they had. These folks, Persians and not above hoodwinking a Greek. fed Ctesias the details he longed for. Bit by bit he got a complete impression of the “wild ass of India”. It was the size of a horse, with a white body, a red head, bluish eyes, and a straight horn on its forehead, a cubit long.

It was the horn, all agreed, that riveted their attention… and while no Persiian seemed to know all its attributes… each one added another, turning the unicorn into a beast of awe, wonder, and power.

The horn, the all important horn, was magical, possessing key ingredients for mediaeval medicaments. It offered protection against poisons (no small thing in a world where a pinch of this, a smidgeon of that, could alter a royal succession or remove a pesky husband, or wife). Worn as jewelry, it protected the wearer from evil.

Burgeoning demand, miniscule supply.

There could never be enough of such potency… and, of course, charlatans, all believability, seduced the gullible and credulous, offering everything, delivering nothing. Other charlatans, all sanctimony and solemnity, arose with the means, so they insisted, of determining whether the horn was real… or not.

Place a scorpion under a dish with a piece of horn. If the scorpion dies in a matter of hours, the horn is real.

Feed arsenic to pigeons, followed by a dose of unicorn horn. If the pigeons live, the horn is genuine.

Draw a ring on the floor with the horn. If the horn is real, a spider will not be able to cross the ring.

Place the horn in cold water. If the water bubbles but remains cold, the horn came from a true and real unicorn.

You get the idea.

Capturing unicorns.

Its potency known… ways of certifying its authenticity at hand… the unceasing problem was how to find unicorns… and how to capture them. Here a magnificent series of tapestries made in Belgium in 1500 hold clues. Bought by John D. Rockefeller, the richest man on earth, in 1922, they are now on display at the Cloisters museum in New York.

There are 7 tapestries in this series which portrays, in fine detail and consummate craftsmanship, a unicorn hunt. The men, nobles all, are chasing the unicorn as if it were standard quarry. And, of course, the unicorn easily eludes them, laughing the while.

In the fifth tapestry, however, the unicorn is captured… by the power of a young maid, who represents the Virgin Mary. She needs do nothing but sit in complete tranquility. The unicorn, perhaps knowledgeable of its fate, advances unforced, puts its head in the virgin’s lap…and so becomes, in the seventh and most celebrated tapestry, a prisoner, chained to a tree within a round wooden fence; its destiny sealed.

In the words of Lewis Carroll (Through the Looking Glass. 1871) “… Well, now, that we have seen each other,” said the Unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.” I feel sure she did… and that the unicorn abides, at peace, his head forever in her lap. May the renewing oryx fare as well.

* * * * *

About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding

‘I’m gonna be like you, dad. You know I’m gonna be like you.’ U.S. Father’s Day, June, 2011.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s note. To get into the mood of this special Father’s Day article, go to any search engine and find “Cat’s in the Cradle” sung by Harry Chapin in 1974. Its refrain is haunting, and every boy-turned-father understands the bite in the words, often painfully so…

“A child arrived just the other day”, February 16, 1947.

It was my birth day but, as I couldn’t possibly have known, it was the end of their honeymoon and that special tea-for-two idyll that comes only once. My parents married February 16,1946; I teased them for years about the importance of that last digit.

Like all babies, I expected, demanded and maneuvered to be the center of their lives. It’s what babies do.

But I can imagine now what was going on in the weeks prior to that mad-dash to the hospital that transformed my beautiful young mother from a wife with a constituency of one… into a multi-tasking mother.

I was the first born child, first child, first son, first grandson on both sides; every one of these designations pushed omniscient women forward and my father back. The process, you see, in those post-War years was not made for fathers, no matter how caring. And, upon arrival, I monopolized my mother. I’ve told you, it’s what babies do… and even then I was masterful at my craft.

There must have been times, though no one to this day has ever said so, when he missed the bright, laughing eyed girl he’d married. She was the essence of the “fun on a date” ‘forties girl who had the gift of joy with lots to spare.

She gave me a clue years later, telling me she didn’t like children, didn’t mean to have any, and thought they looked like frogs. (Queen Victoria thought so, too). But, she quickly added and always emphasized that all that changed when the nurse handed me over for my first visit, textbook perfect infantile innocence.

I’d “come into the world in the usual way”. And I was determined to keep the full and undivided attention of the woman who didn’t yet know how her own instincts would conduce to my constant benefit; literally born yesterday I didn’t need Dr. Spock to tell me that.

Into this new, unstudied situation my father had to move and move delicately for now words like “shhhhhh, he’s sleeping” meant sacrifice, limitations, and even unwonted loneliness. It was a sea-change from the happy “you-for-me-and-me-for-you” days of such recent memory.

“He learned to walk while I was away.”

Like most children I don’t know what I actually remember or what I have, from pictures and family stories, been taught to remember. But there is hardly a memory either way that is not more her than him. He worked hard, long hours, lucky to have a job in the recession that promptly came with our unqualified war victory. She was the center of my universe. And, like Chapin, my first steps were probably taken when he was being a “good provider”. But there is a story that sums up the situation.

One hot, humid Illinois summer day (are there any other?) when I was about three, my mother and I screamed for ice cream. But there was not a dollar to be had… except for a dollar bill my father had circulated amongst his Navy buddies, to be autographed by each. Such a token was not to be surrendered lightly, but it was surrendered nonetheless, for the delicacy of an instant and later, poignant regrets. He must have loved us very much to do such a thing… it says volumes about the man.

“My son turned ten just the other day. He said, “Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play.”

In the suburbs of Chicago in the early Eisenhower years, you needed to be good at handling the balls of several sports… or so bright that you could afford to ignore sports because you were destined for greater things. My brother filled the first category; I filled the second. I knew my brother was easier to handle; he fit in, particularly the year he made the state Little League team, and we all trooped down to Freeport to watch him, resplendent in a uniform that said “Moose”; this was lifetime certification that he was a boy’s boy…

I was different, always with my nose in a book, the one who when asked at age 10 or so what he wanted to be when he grew up, without dropping a beat, said “Harvard graduate; millionaire; writer of many books.” II wasn’t what prairie parents were accustomed to hearing… What’s more, it all came true in due course…

Another celebrated incident took place about this time. My parents and I went to some local swimming hole for a day of the kind of innocent amusements I couldn’t wait to escape from. At the end of the day, it was, I think, my mother who said the inevitable line about their guests, “Cute couple. Great relationship.” That sort of thing. What did I think? Without missing a beat I said I thought they had problems… and seer-like, foretold splitsvillle. Of course, I was told I was wrong, but just weeks later they separated. My stock soared… and my father pressed me less to fire a gun, build superb back yard igloos, throw a ball, you get the picture. He had to wonder about this creature sui generis.. and what his role as father might mean or entail.

I was not an easy child, although I say it myself, an interesting one. He must have seen I was moving beyond his sphere into uncharted waters. I could hardly wait until it happened and my joy at crossing another day off the calendar, the sooner to commence my Great Journey, must have been palpable, even affronting. I did not want what his life epitomized and I was too green, unknowing how to say this without insult… and uncaring about the effect.

There was, in those years, more coexistence than empathy., not least because he tried hard to get me to understand and adopt verities he saw as fundamental and essential… about which I had quite different ideas. I severely embarrassed him the day I refused to answer the pastor’s call for Communion, being unable to subscribe to the tenets. (I have never taken Communion sincen.)

There was, too, his desire that I should understand the farmer’s life practised by all my cousins and should, as part, learn how to harvest oats and drive a tractor. The first scratched; the second bored. Neither oats nor tractor have played any role in my development.

“Well, he came from college just the other day…”

My launching pad to the vision I had long been shaping for my life came with a college acceptance letter. ….. and thereafter, too long, communications were as rushed and superficial as Harry Chapin sings.

“I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away…”

And so it might have stayed, both of us stubborn, obstinate, headstrong — proud men, unyielding. But, you see, the love that caused a prized war memento to be sacrificed had always been present, waiting for auspicious times. He told me the other day, cast down now and again by the tremors and afflictions of the way we age now, that he was ready to go whenever the good Lord wants him. And neither he nor I fear that… for we have, at last, found each other and gladly so.

“And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me, He’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.”

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is, where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding